Five directors pick their favourites for India's official entry to the Oscars

An announcement on India's official entry to the 88th Academy Awards is likely to be made soon. We turn to five acclaimed Bollywood filmmakers for predictions...

It's never too early to predict for the Oscars. There may be nearly five months to go for the 88th Academy Awards, but buzz has already started building around the potential contenders.

A still from Tamil film Kaakka Muttai, which is said to be leading the race for India’s official entry to the 2016 Oscars
A still from Tamil film 'Kaakka Muttai', which is said to be leading the race for India's official entry to the 2016 Oscars

As far as India's official entry to the Oscars is concerned, several names of films from Bollywood and the South India film industry are being tossed around.

Killa tops the prediction list of filmmakers like Hansal Mehta and Neeraj Ghaywan to be nominated as India’s entry in the Best Foreign Language Film category
'Killa' tops the prediction list of filmmakers like Hansal Mehta and Neeraj Ghaywan to be nominated as India's entry in the Best Foreign Language Film category

Actor-director Amol Palekar heads the jury which will pick the official entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the prestigious awards function to be held on February 28, 2016.

A still of Court
A still of 'Court' and (below) some of the favoured films for India's official entry to the 2016 Oscars

According to a source, "The selection committee has watched over 45 films this year and is on the verge of finalising India's official entry to the Oscars 2016. The list includes Rajkumar Hirani's 'pk', Neeraj Ghaywan's 'Masaan', Omung Kumar's 'Mary Kom' and Vishal Bhardwaj's 'Haider'. However, two South Indian films 'Kaakka Muttai' and 'Baahubali' are leading the race. The final list will be announced on September 25."

A still of Masaan
A still of 'Masaan'

The Indian films that have, so far, been nominated for the Foreign Film Oscar include 'Mother India' (1957), 'Salaam! Bombay' (1988) and 'Lagaan' (2001), which came the closest to the coveted trophy. In spite of India's no show at the Academy awards every year and till now only five Indians have won Oscars — Bhanu Athaiya, Resul Pookutty, AR Rahman, Gulzar and Satyajit Ray, but all of them worked in movies made by foreign production houses.

A still of Titli
A still of 'Titli'

Last year, India sent Geetu Mohandas' 'Liar's Dice' to the Oscars, but failed to make it to the top-five. Controversy erupted over the film's choice as country's official entry with filmmakers and others taking to social media to voice their dissent. The debutante director's film was picked by the Film Federation of India over 29 other contenders, including the critically acclaimed Bollywood films 'Queen', 'Mary Kom' and 'Shahid', and the Marathi-language drama 'Fandry'.

Awaiting debate and discussion post the announcement of the official entry to the 88th Academy Awards, hitlist asks five filmmaker to vote for their Oscar favourites...

Hansal Mehta
Hansal Mehta

My pick: 'Kaakka Muttai' (Tamil), 'Court', 'Killa' (both Marathi)
Why: All the three films are brilliant and they are worthy of representing India on a global platform.

Neeraj Ghaywan
Neeraj Ghaywan

My pick: 'Killa', 'Court'
Why: Both represent a new cinematic language with superior craft and a keen eye to stories from modern India.

Dibakar Banerjee
Dibakar Banerjee

My pick: 'Titli'
Why: It's the most groundbreaking film about the holy cow, the Indian family.


My pick: 'Masaan'
Why: One of the finest films of the year, well made and is rooted in the land it represents and has already made a mark internationally.

Bejoy Nambiar
Bejoy Nambiar
My pick: 'Court', 'The Trap' (Malayalam)
Why: Both the films are outstanding. 'Court' really shook you up and it was such a frustrating film to watch with no emotions in it, but at the same time what beautiful statement it made and with 'The Trap' the other end of the spectrum was so emotional. It was a sweet little film. The child was adorable in the film and the way emotions were brought out was heart-warming to see.

India's Oscar connect
Films based on Indian themes which have dominated and won awards at the Oscars:
1983: Bhanu Athaiya took home an Oscar in the Best Costume Design category at the 55th Annual Academy Awards for Richard Attenborough's 'Gandhi'.
1992: Legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray was bestowed with an honorary Oscar for his contribution to cinema.
2008: Musician AR Rahman, sound engineer Resul Pookutty and lyricist Gulzar received awards for Danny Boyle's 'Slumdog Millionaire'.
2013: Ang Lee's 'Life Of Pi', an adventure drama widely shot in India, bagged the 85th Academy Award for Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects, Best Direction and Best Original Score. The same year, Steven Spielberg's Lincoln, a historical drama about the last few months of 16th US President Abraham Lincoln, bagged the Best Lead Actor award (Daniel Day-Lewis). The India connection was that the film was co-produced by Indian business tycoon Anil Ambani's Reliance Entertainment and DreamWorks.

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